After pitching around Buster Posey for most of the afternoon, the Colorado Rockies had no choice but to at least attempt to retire the Giants’ (and maybe the game’s) hottest hitter. After 10 pitches, Rafael Betancourt got Posey to fly out to left with the bases loaded, but in the process allowed a run on a sacrifice fly that tied the game at 6-6.
Up stepped Hunter Pence.
There was no way Pence was going to continue hitting .149 as a member of the San Francisco Giants, but that was his average coming into Sunday afternoon’s game. After going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts heading into his plate appearance in the eighth inning, Pence’s blast over the left field wall seemed perfect in every way.
- Pence hit his first home run as a Giant.
- Pence enjoyed his first AT&T Park curtain call. “Melky pushed me out there,” he said.
- It was the Giants’ first non-Posey HR at home since Pablo Sandoval hit one on June 29.
- The Giants went from trailing the Rockies by 2 runs to leading by 3.
Most people knew that Pence would turn things around at some point, even though he seemed intent at swinging at every pitch thrown to him — regardless of location. The guy had hit 131 Major League home runs before joining the Giants, and put up some of the best numbers of any visiting player at AT&T Park over the last six years.
Pence said all the right things after the game (“It’s not really about me, it’s about the win. And that was huge.”), but anyone with his reputation as an impact player had to have been frustrated to not contribute quite as much as he’s used to. Now the Giants are starting to score runs on a semi-regular basis and look to get Sandoval back tomorrow in all probability. If this home run relaxes Pence, the Giants suddenly have their best lineup in quite some time.
“(Pence) getting going, it just makes us better. Him in the lineup, automatically just the name makes us better, so if we can get him going, get Panda back, maybe the sky’s the limit for us, you never know,” Sergio Romo said.
Pence also made an “Inspector Gadget” grab, according to Mike Krukow, running quite a ways to make a lunging backhanded catch of a Jordan Pacheco fly ball in the gap in the 4th, so it’s not like he was a non-contributor coming into his final at-bat. The Rockies still scored a run in that inning, but a Pacheco double (or triple) might have led to a very short outing for Barry Zito, who was looking quite fifth-startery today.
Pence also contributed some postgame comedy when asked what makes the Washington Nationals such a good team (23 seconds).
— I talked to Romo (who recorded the game’s last two outs) for two minutes in the clubhouse. He came up with perhaps the most humble comment of the year in this video: “It’s fun to watch my teammates play and do what they can do, show us what they can do on the field. I’m just really glad I’m part of it. I’m glad they’re allowing me to play alongside them.”
Uh, Romo’s ERA is 2.00 (and it’s only that high because he gave up 6 earned runs over two consecutive outings a couple weeks ago). Some might argue that the Giants are lucky that he plays alongside them.
— Brandon Belt committed an error on a throw to second from close range that was nowhere near Ryan Theriot, but he also went 4-for-4 with a walk. I asked Bochy about Belt’s resurgence at the plate, and here’s what he said (27 seconds):
— About 10 minutes later I asked Posey about whether he thinks the offense seems to be gelling based on how they’ve played over the last couple weeks (23 seconds):
— Vern Glenn strikes again.
Glenn, otherwise known as “Mr. Involvement,” has provided several comedic gems of his own this season. First there was the time his cellphone’s robotic ringtone interrupted a Posey interview back in May (34 seconds):
And who can forget when he confused Pence after his second game with the Giants with a question that wasn’t really a question (12 seconds):
Today, Glenn asked Bochy if he was AWARE that the Dodgers had lost today, even though the Dodger won 5-0 in Miami (28 seconds, and Bochy’s response is priceless):